Why Spanking Can Be a Grey Area Issue

our time-out chair.

Spanking is one of those DO NOT DISCUSS topics of parenting and one that every person has an opinion on, whether they are a parent or not, because their own lives were shaped by a parent’s decision to spank or not to spank.  I’ve seen bloggers that I love get ripped apart for confessing that they use spanking as a disciplinary tool.  I’ve seen other bloggers that I love confess that they feel time-outs to be too harsh and isolating, much less spanking.  The pendulum swings both ways, mostly in a drastic measure with very few left in the middle.  People treat it as a black and white issue – a do or do not issue.  There is no grey area, they say.

I tend to argue that there is a grey area to spanking.

And it’s not my place to judge what is right for another family.

Hear me out.  We currently do not spank Harrison by choice that my husband and I made together as we began disciplining him.  Mostly, we decided that a toddler could not differentiate between “do not hit, but I’m going to hit you for hitting.”  I also wanted to see what we could do that was effective discipline without using physical punishment.  So far, it has worked well for us.  He has responded well to time-outs and losing toys or privilages, or having to leave some place he’s having fun (for example, leaving the pool because he won’t listen).

So why am I not anti-spanking?

Because I was spanked as a child.  Not often, not with a tool other than my mother’s hand, not until I was out of diapers (I think I was 7 the first time I was spanked), and not for flippant reasons.   I grew up in a loving household where I respected and adored both of my parents.  But if we did something that was unsafe, like run to the street when my mother called us, we were spanked.  She’d grab us by the arm & whack us through our jeans as we walked up to the house.  Yes, I cried.  Mostly for disappointing her rather than the spank, although the sting on my rear definitely deterred me from ever running to the street again (along with not wanting to disappoint her again).

I was spanked and I still grew up attached to my parents, never feeling abused, always feeling wanted and loved and protected.  I didn’t do drugs or become a loose woman in high school or have a low self-esteem.  It was never confusing to me that my mother could spank me for discipline, but that did not give me permission to hit my friends, animals, brothers, etc.  I’m assuming that’s because I wasn’t spanked until there were clear, understood roles between me and my parents (aka I was older).

On the flip side, I dated a boy in high school who’s mother used to tell me that she could have beat him blue in the face and he would have laughed.  But the moment she said, “You made mommy sad,” he’d burst into tears and feel awful for days.  On the other hand, his sister couldn’t care less about emotions but man, a spanking set her straight.  To me, that momma knew each of her children well – what worked, what didn’t, and how they operated as individuals.

So when I see the argument that spanking destroys relationships, confuses children, mimics abuse, I tend to shrug.  Because…it didn’t.  Not for me.  Not for other people I know.

Maybe for some.  But not for everyone.

And I think it’s important that we remember that all children are different, all families are different, and everyone reacts differently.

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hey, hey!  disclosure time!  I’m talking disciplinary spanking, not child abuse.  If you suspect abuse, please don’t view it as “every family is different.”  Report it.

More from BA:

Honest Toddler

Regretful Toddler hilarity.

Time to toss in the towel?

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures on The Heir to Blair. You can also find her on the Twitters & Facebook.

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